Douglas M. Yates

Director
Nanoscale Characterization Facility
Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology

How long have you worked at Penn?
“Since August of 1997.”

What do you do?
Yates’ work in the Nanoscale Characterization Facility falls into two broad categories: (1) A user has made something—a device or a compound, for instance—and the lab confirms that he or she “has what they think they have.” (2) People come in with a complete unknown. “We can go in and characterize and tell them what the unknown is.” The facility has also begun fabricating nanoscale devices that allow testing in another platform. “For example, we can use our focused ion beam system to make a device, which then allows the testing of a nanotube or nanowire or nanoscale feature in our transmission electron microscope.”

What is the favorite part of your job?
“Working with the students. The students are great.”

What is unique about your workspace?
“It’s all about specifications. … In our rooms, it has to be plus or minus one degree Celsius per hour, and in one of the rooms, it has to be plus or minus .2 degrees Celsius per hour, and that’s a very difficult thing to achieve. Beyond that, we need extremely low vibration. … Electromagnetic interference also has to be extremely low, so we have shielded walls and compensation systems. Things like the SEPTA trains going by our building a half a block away do not have any effect in here.”

--G.J.